Friday, January 20, 2012

Getting Things Done (or not)

I often find myself falling into the trap, the belief, that if I work very hard on a creative piece, I can “get it done”. Creativity may not flow well from that kind of hard work; in fact, just the opposite may be necessary. As every writer knows, when you get away from something you are working on, and leave it some time and space, you may be rewarded with a fresh perspective when you return to it. From that perspective, the work can flow again.

Over and over, I keep coming back to the understanding that we really do need to leave space around things, what the Sufis call “spaciousness”. To nurture that spaciousness in one’s work as well as in one’s meditations is to allow life itself to be a meditation. It doesn’t mean that we don’t work hard. It just means that we listen carefully to the inner voice, the creative word within us and, even when it seems that we haven’t accomplished anything at all after working for only an hour, we honor that sense of “this is enough for now” and stop, walk away.

If you want to get things done in a chosen time frame, don’t sign up for creative work. You will be constantly frustrated. Only when you accept that creativity is a flow rather than a push, a flow that must move at its own rate, will you find satisfaction at a deep level. Then, from this spaciousness and allowing, things unfold before you and you are amazed.

This morning, I woke up haunted by a nightmare; then, beneath the dream’s activity, a whisper of creativity, a next step, rose to the surface. After breakfast and a few “getting things done” activities (do housework when you really want see immediate physical results!), I went to my studio and opened the files on the chant and the instrumental piece. I tested out the idea that came as I awakened, and suddenly several things fell together. I see the possibility that both the chant and the instrumental work can move a whole leap forward. They will share more than I thought they would, and yet, they will each be unique.

I am excited and energized. And I am aware, at this moment, that this is the next step only. This excitement and energy are about movement in my work, engagement in the process, not necessarily “getting things done”. The songs will be finished at some point, but not by any pushing of mine.

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